Perfume Reviews

Reviews of Ambre Sultan by Serge Lutens

This is actually one fragrance where I have to agree with everything Luca Turin says about it in his book the "A-Z Guide to Perfume!" It does indeed smell like a "hippie shop!" :D I could actually sit and name specific stores I've been in that tend to use this type of scent in the air as ambiance! I won't name them though, because I'm not affiliated with them, but I know exactly what Turin means! :D Several of the perfume oils I've tried from "Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab" are quite similar to this one too, since they often tend to favour amber based fragrances.
There are a few impressions of my own that I would like to add too though.
"Ambre Sultan" is overall a fairly dark, green, smoky, earthy and somewhat bitter scent. It does actually contain some vanilla notes that were pretty noticeable when I first sprayed this fragrance on from my sample tube, but there isn't really enough vanilla to "balance" out the bitter and smoky notes, and I felt like the sweet notes faded out fast. They say this one (like all of the Serge Lutens line) is unisex, but I would politely disagree with that assessment. This is one fragrance that I actually do find to be quite "manly" and "butch", no offense intended to any of the ladies who might like wearing this one. It's just my own thought! I think I might love this fragrance on a man, but I don't think I would buy a bottle of this for myself! Plus, I find I don't receive compliments when I wear this style of fragrance. I used to wear "Ormonde Woman" by Ormonde Jayne a few years back, and someone once commented that the scent just seemed "spooky" and "witchy" on me! :D "Ambre Sultan", by the way, distinctly reminds me of "Ormonde Woman" in a few ways. Or, in any case, it is definitely a fragrance that brings to mind an image of a deep, dark forest, evergreens, burning wood and bonfires and smoke. It also has a distinctly earthy, green smell as well as slightly bitter and somewhat medicinal smelling notes. So, yeah, I can see how some people might find this kind of fragrance "spooky!" Like I said, it's a scent that, to me, seems to have a bit of a darker vibe. I probably wouldn't buy or wear this one, but I feel that I have to give it five stars and a big thumbs up, because these types of scents always fascinate and intrigue me! I'm always amazed by how well a perfume can imitate a complex smell like burning wood, incense, bonfires or smoke! And this is definitely a fabulously smoky fragrance! Definitely buy a sample and try this one! It's worth it!

Edit: After wearing this perfume for a few hours,it actually dries down to a very lovely spicy-sweet skin scent! I can definitely smell the vanilla now. In the dry down it actually reminds me of a Christmas candle scent! It seems more unisex than masculine, and I'm actually enjoying this one a lot the longer I wear it! :)
17th November, 2015
Ambre Sultan is perfectly nice - one of those ambers that mixes resins with wood and vanilla. It's got a bit of what smells like pine tar for smoke and some cedar for that "wood shavings" effect.

But here's the thing about amber perfumes: There are so many good ones out there that you can be completely justified in being nitpicky, because if there's anything you don't thoroughly enjoy about an amber perfume, there will be others out there that fix whatever you don't like. With that in mind, I don't like the vanilla in Ambre Sultan - it's that ethyl maltol smell, so it gives the perfume a marshmallow/cupcake vibe that I find vaguely cheap. If you share my ethyl maltol pet peeve, I'd suggest Histoire De Parfum's Amber 113, which is quite similar to Ambre Sultan, but with the sandalwood amplified and the vanilla toned down. But again, that's a nitpick. Ambre Sultan is quite good and worthy of a thumbs up even if it's not my smoky amber of choice.
14th November, 2015
From a sample...
Another terrific fragrance from Serge Lutens and Christopher Sheldrake. Like all Lutens scents, Ambre Sultan is characteristically sweet but with a resinous tone, especially in the early stages. The opening is a sensuous blend of spice, resin and amber notes that starts and continues very soft and doesn't project much. I like amber and AS is a fantastic representation of the note. It's as much of a feeling or atmosphere as it is a scent. It conjures memories of shopping in a Turkish bazaar with the middle eastern spice mixing with the berry-pine amber creating an exotic and intoxicating atmosphere.

AS is really a personal scent, as it is very soft and close to the skin. Additionally, it's marketed as unisex, but it fits better on a female than it does on a male, IMO. For those who want something with more masculine, and bigger projection, look to Tom Ford Amber Absolute or Bond 9 NY Amber. Amber Sultan is an indulgence for the wearer and/or a significant other. My wife loved it, and I enjoyed smelling it on her.
26th October, 2015 (last edited: 10th November, 2015)
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Salutation.

It is always a conversation starter.what is it?where can i get it?An intimate, seductive and hot fragrance that is inspired by the timeless emotions of being deep in love.Delicoous and Dangerous at the same time.in other words Sweet,Potent,Passionate, Spicy,Woody,Subtle,Sultry and Laudable.

Sharp and strong opening with exotic elements,the middle notes are balanced but the base notes are the best part this one for me,when a sensual base of hot amber and wood with patchouli add comfort and warmth.The result is a sheer sensuality and this scents reminds me a hot Arabian woman.

AMBRE SULTAN is a definite keeper.More suitable for a mature lady.It is reserved for COLD weather and INTIMATE/SPECIAl occasions.It is not for Everyone, Ladies if you are loking for a gorgeous amber smell that will make the men drop at you,I would recommend this one.

Sillage?Strong

Longevity?8 hours on my skin.

7.5/10
01st June, 2015 (last edited: 13th June, 2015)
The first spray of this was a fantastic array of spices and resins and just a hint of something so familiar and personal, something almost sub-conscious, from my childhood. I couldn't really concentrate on breaking the fragrance down because of it, I just had to keep sniffing. It was great!

This is one of those fragrances that plays all kinds of tricks. I've learned to spray just my wrists when I'm first testing a fragrance so that I can get an idea of what it smells like to someone at arms-length from me. This fragrance smells like one thing up close when your nose is buried in your wrist and a completely different thing when a bit of the scent wafts up from my wrists, and I realized that the great spicy accord is the one I smell right up close but the one wafting up from my wrists at arms-length was the very familiar accord from my childhood, and as it got stronger, it hit me what that smell was: play-doh. Unmistakable, as true as if I had just opened one of those little yellow plastic tubs with the red lids. This only gets stronger as the heart notes continue. I've only seen a couple of reviewers here mention the play-doh note and only a couple over on the "other" fragrance review site so it seems to be a skin chemistry thing which is too bad because my bright-eyed excitement over how the scent opened turned into disappointment at smelling like I rolled around in a child's art classroom.

That being said, the scent does seem well-blended and well-put-together and is very intriguing to me from an artistic point of view. The fragrance is like vivid imagery in a way that most are not. This seems to be a regular thing for the SL line since most of them bring images and feelings directly into my mind and have some artistic merit. As for actually wearin this though, I am unlikely to wear it again unless I find myself in the highly improbable scenario that I'm meeting someone whom I need to impress by impersonating a children's teacher.
02nd March, 2015
I'm a relative noob, here....but I gotta say this is absolutely amazing. I'm in love with Iris Silver Mist, and thought that was THE ONE! It may still be, but this permeates my skin and wafts gently around me for hours...it's wonderful. The Amber wrapped in a subtle sweetness is the kicker. So far, I would put this just (barely) below L'air du desert marocain...and Ava Luxe Madame X, which has sadly, been discontinued. This is truly amazing. Im so glad I bought an FB.
10th February, 2015
Didn't take long to remember what AS smelled like. AMBRE RUSSE hit me after about 10 minutes of applying. This stuff is great. The first few minutes gave me the impression that a mistake was made purchasing AS. That impression didn't last long. You get that skankiness in the initial spray.Other than Musc Ravageur, this fragrance turns from horrible to great in a matter of minutes. You don't have to wait until the drydown to get this effect though. 8.5/10
16th September, 2014
Faultless perfect amber goodness.

Nothing needs to be added or tweaked in neither smell nor performance for me. No 'i wish', No 'if only'. Just perfect.

A beautiful blend of sweet resins and herbal aromatic reinforcements laying on a golden silky bed of amber and vanilla.

Bay leaf and myrrh are the middle name here and are key components to the uniqueness of this beauty.

It's funny the color of the juice is orange because that's how i exactly envision the smell of this scent: Sunkissed sweet resins melting and gently swirling in a form of orange/golden liquid on my skin.

Who needs gourmands when you got this ?
02nd August, 2014
Strong Amber, smokey and super super dry and very sweet. This one is pretty much linear but is very challenging expectially at the beginning. It's name applies to what it is, Amber (or the king of ambers if you will) and this is about as amber as you can get. Can come off as too mature (I see my grandmother wearing this). For me it's neutral but I still rate this a 4 out of star only because it's done so well as expected from this house and its what I expected. Amber fans may find this the holy grail for pure amber based frags.
27th June, 2014
Genre: Oriental

Ambre Sultan goes onto my skin as a chaotic miasma that manages to be excessively sour, sickly sweet, and bitter, all at the same time. I attribute this assault on the nostrils to the confluence of sharp, bitter oregano and the trademark Sheldrake/Lutens sweet amber accord. The two come at each other as mighty waves and collide with a titanic crash.

The first few times I tried Ambre Sultan I was unable to endure this cacophony. Over the subsequent wearings I persevered long enough to enjoy the dusky, lascivious spiced amber accord at Ambre Sultan’s heart and the luscious sweet labdanum drydown, but wasn’t convinced that they were worth waiting for. It took several more widely spaced attempts before I decided that they were. My ultimate appreciation of Ambre Sultan is based on my understanding of why that unsympathetic opening may be necessary.

For what it’s worth, here’s my theory: Like so many of the Serge Lutens oriental fragrances, Ambre Sultan flirts with being insufferably sweet. Unlike some of the others, it avoids plunging into a powdery-syrupy quagmire. How? I attribute Ambre Sultan’s success to the balancing influence of its sharp herbal and spice components. These hard-edged savory notes offset the amber’s potential to cloy at the nostrils. However, in order to endure and yield this effect at the heart of the scent, the relatively volatile sharp notes must be used in great concentration. The end result is a unique and beautifully balanced heart accord, but at the price of a sharp and confrontational opening. Given Serge Lutens’s penchant for provocative openings, this price seems very much in line.

Patience with Ambre Sultan yields exceptional rewards, thanks to the scent’s enormous tenacity. For that first half an hour of confusion, I get as much as twelve hours of libido enhancing ambery goodness. The dry amber skin scent persists for even longer. It’s no surprise that such a long lasting fragrance is also very potent. I find Ambre Sultan overbearing and difficult to wear in high temperatures, and prefer to use it in controlled doses in any case. Besides strong projection, Ambre Sultan leaves a trail of abundant sillage, establishing an olfactory aura around its wearer.

Are those top notes challenging? Yes. But Ambre Sultan remains a giant among amber scents. The only amber I’ve found that can hope to rival it is the very different, and less confrontational Ambre Precieux from Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier.
08th June, 2014
This is one of the most delicious fragrances I have ever tried. As a fan of the amber style accord (what does amber truly smell like? it's a fossilized resin...) - this is quite possibly my favorite take on amber as of yet.

What really impresses me with Ambre Sultan is the three-dimensional way the fragrance works on me. Up close I can smell the herbs/oregano/spice that some have noted - but a foot or so away I get the sweetness and syrup.

I am just at the start of what may be a long fragrant journey for me, but the Serge Lutens fragrances I have started with are all quite good (AS, Chergui, Daim Blond) -- but Ambre Sultan has made it into my top five of all time pretty quickly. Seriously bottle worthy!
19th March, 2014
This is the third Serge Lutens fragrance that I'm testing.
First one was Cuir Mauresque , second one was Chergui and now this one and I must say I'm quite impressed with all of them!
It's a fragrance for women and I was expecting something very sweet and feminine, but dude is this really a fragrance for women?!
I'm sure a man can wear it easily!
The opening is very strong resinous spicy scent with some woods in the background.
It does have a bitter spicy smell and I must say the opening is completely masculine! nothing feminine here!
After a while and in the dry down, that resinous smell settled down a bit and spicy scent became a little stronger. I can smell some kind of dirty animalistic feeling too but it's weak.
Now you can feel also some sweetness that gave the scent a really nice kick!
In the base you have a sweet (but not too much) yummy scent with some spices and that resinous and animalistic smell completely in the background.
It's quite sensual and beautiful.
Projection is above average and longevity is good.
It's a great quality fragrance that you can easily put unisex sticker on it!
I love it.
07th February, 2014 (last edited: 16th February, 2014)
To me, this is *the* quintessential smoky, boisé, herbal amber scent. Simple, powerful, perfect, elegant.

10/10
09th January, 2014 (last edited: 03rd August, 2014)
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For me this opened with a strong pleasant burnt caramel blast, followed closely by the central amber. Cedar entered after ten minutes and a slightly acrid vetiver note joined it. A dry herbal note then appeared (thyme?). After half an hour the overall effect was that of being in a small chapel where the smoke of a fine incense floated in the space.

The incense note is dry and dusky, not sweet.

My partner's reaction to it was that of a dusty, dry amber with a bouquet garni herbal note. He detected a wood note, but did not believe it was cedar. He would have liked it better if there was a more pronounced sandalwood/frankincense presence. Overall he found it to be dry, powdery, linear and herbal/amber.

After an hour both our skins smelled of "a cedar box in which amber and frankincense had been stored."

My summation is that of a very nice amber incense, but nothing outstanding or revolutionary. Recommended as a good purchase if you are fond of the amber/incense notes.
24th December, 2013
Just got a sample of this and am very pleasantly surprised..I am female and don't usually like "unisex" scents but this is somehow different. A fine amber and woods in good proportion with an incense note. USE SPARINGLY however.
03rd November, 2013
Aromatic Amber

A straight amber with all it's sweetness and warmth tempered by herbs, very much in the tradition of Arab flavours: this has a very familiar Moroccan orange/cinnamon sweet tea aspect that lulls me into comfort, as it gets rounder and smoother with time.

Excellent longevity and no feminine predisposition.

Pros: Wonderful herbal warmth
Cons: -"

04th October, 2013
Cannes Show all reviews
United States
Dry and Dirty Amber

I love ambers so I didn't feel I was taking a huge risk blind buying Amber Sultan. Initially, it's all amber to me. But after a few hours, it turns drier, sweatier, and dirtier...perfect for nighttime activities.

23rd September, 2013
Some Candy Talking

Wonderful take on Amber, rather linear but spicy over the top and on my skin smells like dry citric peels!

First line in my wardrobe! Forget all the snobbery put on this piece of Art!

Pros: Heavy sillage and duration
Cons: None"

13th September, 2013
Quartz Show all reviews
United States
Strong Vanilla Note

I sampled this one and have to say that while it smells nice, it's pretty strong on the vanilla drydown. Although I've seen it listed as a unisex fragrance, I think it leans more to the feminine side. Very good projection and longevity (still strong after 9 hours) but, for me, it's a little too strong on the vanilla and overall a bit too sweet for my taste.

Pros: Longevity is excellent
Cons: A bit too sweet"

12th August, 2013
Fire & Herbs

This is a superb scent. My first impression upon sampling was a very herbal, medicinal vibe which immediately hit me upon application. However this is not a bad thing, as it gradually settled into a very warm and aromatic herbal dry down. I think this scent is very, very well made and it reminds me of incense and herbs (but not in an overwhelming way), just in a really well blended sense. Depending on your tastes, I would suggest trying or sampling at least once to appreciate this (especially in the dry down). Overall it’s extremely well made. If you appreciate Serge Lutens I think this is one of his best.

Pros: Projection, sillage and longevity
Cons: Overwhelming in excess

30th May, 2013
I am normally not a big amber fan - heavy amber fragrances tend to nauseate me and give me a migraine. Having said that, to this day I'm not sure why I like Ambre Sultan so much. It is a gorgeous amber/incense fragrance that would smell equally as good on a man or woman. The amber is sweet and smooth and I find myself really enjoying the wafts of it that hit my nose throughout the day. Rather than running and scrubbing the amber off my arm like I normally do with other fragrances, I find myself really attracted to the Ambre Sultan. It is a bit pricey but I think it is worth worth the cost.

Sillage: 9/10
Longevity: 9/10
Price: 7/10
02nd May, 2013
The opulent coppery gold of the liquid doesn't prepare you for the jagged herbs of the opening. This is like pushing through a thicket of sage and marjoram and thyme on a hot morning. Then the amber appears, huge and almost stark: not sweet or cuddly amber but a salty, unpolished gem washed up on a beach. A thread of incense eventually appears and adds an extra dimension. This is a truly amazing fragrance.
08th April, 2013
rbaker Show all reviews
United Kingdom
The top note is characterised by a beautiful amber impression, that is deep, rich, intense, and less sweet than many of it's counterparts; a truly wonderful note.  After about a hour, however, it collapses on my skin and says very close to it, a mere shadow of its glorious debut.  Overall longevity of about four hours, and the positive rating is based mainly on the top note. 
10th February, 2013
Ambre Sultan starts off with a very weird smelling oregano note which is kind of off-pudding to say the least. Reminds me of Italian food and seems likes it's out of place especially with an amber fragrance. Dry herbs mixed with amber /vanilla/ bezoin usually don't mix. Do you sprinkle oregano and other dry herbs on vanilla ice cream? Don't think so. Anyway, after the stench of greeness finally dies down, a semisweet amber comes up through the ashes. The scent has a very pleasant and tolerable sweetness without becoming cloying or headache inducing. Downsides: very poor longevity, sillage, and projection. Lasts about 3 hours on my skin, with projection being a mere 30 minutes or less. Verdict:BUY/TRY/PASS . I say TRY.I think there are better smelling ambers on the market that smell better and last a lot longer. Not bad, but it's far from great.
08th December, 2012
Amazing. One of the first scents that I became obsessed with, even fantasized about. I remember smelling it when it first was released back in the early 90s. Couldn't afford it or get it (this was before it was available in the states). Mysterious, sensuous, just more of everything compared to so many fragrances on the market at that time - and really the beginning of the niche category in a true sense. Its a heady amber with spice, yes like an exotic bazaar but so much more. Yes some of the Lutens are unwearable but this is not one of them. I finally purchased it more than a decade later on a trip to NY. Worth the wait. It is not for the faint of heart or the shy, retiring type. It is a scent of style and confidence, and extreme sensuality.
02nd December, 2012
Ambre Sultan has captured EXACTLY what it was going for - a bone-dry amber fragrance that brings to mind a middle-eastern bazaar.

Resinous with loads of sandalwood and coriander, this really pushes the boundaries of what western perfumes do with amber accords.

Surprisingly, this fragrance works extremely well in the heat (as it also does in cooler weather) and makes a nice change to the generic aquatics that are mostly used in stiflingly hot weather.

To me this scent is just a little linear to make it a must-buy, but if you truly appreciate the amber accords that are so often ruined by fragrance houses, you'd do well to sniff this out.
16th November, 2012
This stuff is strong. At the beginning it smells like something strongly medicinal but about 3 hours later it transforms into a beautiful incense fragrance.
31st October, 2012 (last edited: 15th September, 2014)
Amazing, innovative and unique smell. Lots of dry spices in the opening, then dries down to a beautiful sweet amber. If you survive the first 30 minutes, you'll LOVE this fragrance.
29th October, 2012
Amber, dry, less incense than spice. Nice but not for me.
09th September, 2012
The Sultan and I didn't used to agree. It was once one of the very few fragrances that inspired a headache in me, that I found unpleasant in aroma and too heavy. I'm not certain what caused the turn-around, but after a long while away from the scent, I revisited it and enjoyed it immensely. It's marked one of the biggest turnarounds for any fragrance I've encountered.

It really ought to reinforce the thought that something should never be written off based on initial impressions. This one deserves firm testing, breaks, and re-testing before any conclusions should be made on it. One just might find their tastes toward it completely reverse, whether that be for the better or the worse.
24th June, 2012